Cognitive Impairment

Improvement in Cognition / Memory

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Hyperbaric oxygen in the treatment of patients with cerebral stroke, brain trauma, and neurologic disease
Al-Waili NS, Butler GJ, Beale J, Abdullah MS, Hamilton RW, Lee BY, Lucus P, Allen MW, Petrillo RL, Carrey Z, Finkelstein M.
Adv. Ther. 2005 Nov-Dec; 22(6):659-78.

Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy has been used to treat patients with numerous disorders, including stroke. This treatment has been shown to decrease cerebral edema, normalize water content in the brain, decrease the severity of brain infarction, and maintain blood-brain barrier integrity. In addition, HBO therapy attenuates motor deficits, decreases the risks of sequelae, and prevents recurrent cerebral circulatory disorders, thereby leading to improved outcomes and survival.

Hyperbaric oxygen also accelerates the regression of atherosclerotic lesions, promotes antioxidant defenses, and suppresses the proliferation of macrophages and foam cells in atherosclerotic lesions.

Although no medical treatment is available for patients with cerebral palsy, in some studies, HBO therapy has improved the function of damaged cells, attenuated the effects of hypoxia on the neonatal brain, enhanced gross motor function and fine motor control, and alleviated spasticity.

In the treatment of patients with migraine, HBO therapy has been shown to reduce intracranial pressure significantly and abort acute attacks of migraine, reduce migraine headache pain, and prevent cluster headache.

In studies that investigated the effects of HBO therapy on the damaged brain, the treatment was found to inhibit neuronal death, arrest the progression of radiation-induced neurologic necrosis, improve blood flow in regions affected by chronic neurologic disease as well as aerobic metabolism in brain injury, and accelerate the resolution of clinical symptoms.

Hyperbaric oxygen has also been reported to accelerate neurologic recovery after spinal cord injury by ameliorating mitochondrial dysfunction in the motor cortex and spinal cord, arresting the spread of hemorrhage, reversing hypoxia, and reducing edema.

HBO has enhanced wound healing in patients with chronic osteomyelitis. The results of HBO therapy in the treatment of patients with stroke, atherosclerosis, cerebral palsy, intracranial pressure, headache, and brain and spinal cord injury are promising and warrant further investigation.

Cognitive Performance, Hyperoxia and Heart Rate Following Oxygen Adminstration in Healthy Young Adults
Scholey AB, Moss MC, Neave N and Wsens K
Physiol Behav 1999 67(5): 783-9

It was recently established that supplemental oxygen administration significantly enhances memory formation in healthy young adults. In the present study, a double-blind, placebo-controled design was employed to assess the cognitive and physiological effects of subjects’ inspiration of oxygen or air (control) prior to undergoing simple memory and reaction-time tasks.

Arterial blood oxygen saturation and heart rate were monitored during each of six phases of the experiment, corresponding to baseline, gas inhalation, word presentation, reaction time, distractor and word recall, respectively.

The results confirm that oxygen administration significantly enhances cognitive performance above that seen in the air inhalation condition. Subjects who received oxygen recalled more words and had faster reaction times. Moreover, compared to participants who inhaled air, they exhibited significant hyperoxia during gas administration, word presentation, and the reaction-time task, but not at other phases of the experiment. Compared to baseline, heart rate was significantly elevated during the word presentation, reaction-time, and distractor tasks in both the air and oxygen groups.

In the oxygen group, significant correlations were found between changes in oxygen saturation and cognitive performance. In the air group, greater changes in heart rate were associated with more improved cognitive performance. These results are discussed in the context of cognitive demand and metabolic supply.

It is suggested that under periods of cognitive demand a number of physiological responses are brought into play that serve to increase the delivery of metabolic substrates to active neural tissue. These mechanisms can be supplemented by increased availability of circulating blood oxygen, resulting in an augmentation of cognitive performance. Heart rate reactivity and the capacity for increased blood oxygen appear to be important physiological individual differences mediating these phenomena.